The World and Everything in It — June 16, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans sex discrimination. But the U.S. Supreme Court says that now covers homosexuality and transgenderism. The dissent sounds the alarm for religious freedom and women’s rights.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a little political irony: The country’s health crisis has knocked healthcare reform down the priority list for many voters.

Plus The Olasky Interview. This time, a conversation with a philosophy professor on the writings of Augustine.

And WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on how response to the coronavirus left the most vulnerable out of consideration.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, June 16th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Protesters, Brooks’ family call for justice after fatal police shooting in Atlanta » Protesters took to Atlanta streets again on Monday after police fatally shot a black man who resisted arrest. 

The family of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks is demanding changes in law enforcement. Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, told reporters…

MILLER: There’s no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what’s been done. I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, oh he’s coming to take you skating. 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the shooting in a Wendy’s parking lot angered and saddened her.

BOTTOMS: On Friday evening, we saw the murder of Rayshard Brooks, and as I’ve said before, I’m often reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: There is a fierce urgency of now in our communities.

But the President of the Cobb County, Georgia Fraternal Order of Police, Steve Gaynor said the incident was not one-sided.

GAYNOR: Mr. Brooks is the one that took the taser. Mr. Brooks is the one that fired over his shoulder at the officer directly behind him. Mr. Brooks caused a lot of the situation to occur. 

Officer Garrett Rolfe kept his gun holstered until Brooks fired the stolen police taser at him. 

But after firing the taser, Brooks was beginning to turn away from the officer when Rolfe retrieved his sidearm. And the medical examiner’s office said the fatal rounds struck Brooks in his back.   

President Trump on Monday said he found the shooting “disturbing” and plans to announce an executive order regarding police today. 

U.S. fighter jet pilot found dead near wreckage » Rescuers have recovered the body of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who crashed into the North Sea near the coast of England. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The pilot of an F-15 Eagle was on a routine training mission near Suffolk, England when the jet plunged into the sea at 9:40 a.m. on Monday. The cause of the crash wasn’t clear.

The fighter jet was flying out of Royal Air Force Lakenheath. The base, about 80 miles northeast of London, hosts the U.S. Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing.

The British Coastguard recovered the pilot’s remains hours after locating the wreckage of the fighter jet off the Yorkshire coast. 

The Pentagon did not immediately release the name of the service member killed, pending notification of family. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Russian court sentences former U.S. Marine to 16 years in prison » A Russian court sentenced an American corporate security executive Monday to 16 years hard labor. The Russian government accused him of espionage in a closed trial that U.S. officials denounced as a sham. 

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan…

SULLIVAN: I’ve described these proceedings as a mockery of justice and today just confirmed it. An American citizen has just been sentenced to a term of 16 years for a crime for which we have not seen evidence. 

Paul Whelan is a former Marine from Michigan. He maintains his innocence and insists he was set up when he was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 while visiting Russia to attend a friend’s wedding.

The 50-year-old Whelan also holds British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship. He has publicly complained of poor prison conditions and said his life is in danger.

His twin brother, David, said Paul recently underwent hernia surgery. 

WHELAN: He obviously had emergency surgery two weeks ago, which is never a good sign, so hopefully his recuperation has been going alright. 

David Whelan also said he’s worried about coronavirus infections in the Moscow prison where his brother is being held.

He said the case is clearly political and he hopes the U.S. government can help secure his brother’s freedom.

Doctors Without Borders leaving Kabul following deadly attack » Doctors Without Borders is pulling out of Afghanistan’s capital after a deadly attack last month. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The medical humanitarian group announced the decision to withdraw from a hospital in Kabul on Monday. On May 12th, terrorists stormed a Doctors Without Borders maternity clinic and opened fire. 

The attackers murdered two-dozen people, including 15 mothers and two young children. More than a month later, no group has claimed responsibility. 

The clinic largely served members of the ethnic minority Hazara community. The group has been historically marginalized and affected by poverty and displacement. 

Doctors Without Borders’ general director Thierry Allafort-Duverger said he was aware that the group’s presence in the area “carried risks.” But he said “We just couldn’t believe that someone would take advantage of the absolute vulnerability of women about to give birth to exterminate them and their babies.”

The withdrawal will leave Hazara women and children without access to essential medical care. But Duverger said the organization has no choice, adding, “Higher walls and thicker security doors won’t prevent such horrific assaults from happening again.” 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

WNBA slated to start season in July » The WNBA on Monday announced plans to tip off its season next month with a shortened 22-game schedule. 

The league is still finalizing a partnership to play all the games at a sports training facility near Tampa.

The WNBA is aiming to start play on July 24th, one week earlier than the NBA hopes to resume its season in Orlando.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a landmark Supreme Court ruling on transgender employment rights. 

Plus, Kim Henderson on abortion as a so-called essential service.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Tuesday the 16th of June, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Thanks so much for your response so far to our June Giving Drive. We’re a little over half the way to our goal, a little over half the way through the month. So that’s good.

EICHER: It is good. And it’s such an important moment for biblically objective journalism. We’re making an impact here at WORLD and it’s because you’re here to help make it grow. We strive every day to earn your trust, and if we have, we’d be grateful if you’d drop by and give us a vote of confidence., and thank you!

REICHARD: The Supreme Court handed down two opinions in cases argued earlier this term. One of them I will treat in two sentences. The other one, well, let’s just say it needs more than two sentences.

TRUMP: I’ve read the decision and some people were surprised, but they ruled and we live with the decision. That’s what it’s all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court. Very powerful, very powerful decision actually.

President Trump’s blasé reaction to a bombshell 6-to-3 decision advancing LGBT rights, and written by his first nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

It applies federal sex-discrimination law to gay and transgender employees.

EICHER: These employees sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law that doesn’t mention sexual orientation, nor does it mention gender identity. It says only that employers must not fire nor fail to hire any person because of individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch interpreted the meaning of the word “sex” to include gay and transgender persons. 

During oral argument in October, this is what Gorsuch had to say:

GORSUCH: When a case is really close… on the textual evidence and I — assume for the moment — I’m with you on the textual evidence. It’s close, okay?…A judge finds it very close. At the end of the day, should he or she take into consideration the massive social upheaval that would be entailed in such a decision…

REICHARD: But the opinion didn’t address social upheaval. Rather, the six justices applied the legal doctrine of “textualism.” The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a book on it, saying laws ought to be interpreted in the ordinary meaning at the time of passage. But because the law was written in broad terms, the majority reasoned, it should be interpreted broadly. The majority focused on the meaning of the word today, not in the past.

EICHER: The majority did not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, and other infringements on privacy, speech, and religious beliefs. It mentions the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as sufficient protection for those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about human sexuality.

REICHARD: In dissent, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. They used harsh words to describe the majority opinion: deceptive, illogical, breathtakingly arrogant. 

The first line of one dissent reads: “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.” 

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco made this exact point in the oral argument:

FRANCISCO: I actually find it troubling for courts to take that approach because I actually think it deprives the people of the ability to struggle with these issues democratically.

EICHER: The dissent wrote of great damage to the separation of powers, grave misunderstanding of statutory interpretation, and danger to freedoms of religion and speech. 

Justice Kavanaugh wrote his own dissent, pointing out the fate of women’s sports under Title IX is now in question, as athletes born male can claim the right to compete against women. Employers and teachers may have to alter standard English to suit subjective perceptions of gender. And religious liberty is in danger because teaching of sexual morality is at odds with this judicially imposed new meaning.

Lost in all this is the perspective of the small business owner who hired a man who then later presented as a woman. Tom Rost read from a statement earlier this year:

ROST: Businesses must be able to rely on what the law is at the time they make business decisions. Sadly, to the ACLU and EEOC, we were just a means to their end of redefining the law without Congress. That’s unjust. All of us should be able to rely on what the law says.

The case goes back down to lower court for further proceedings consistent with the majority opinion.

REICHARD: The second opinion handed down yesterday says federal law lets the U.S. Forest Service grant developers the right to lay a natural- gas pipeline across the Appalachian Trail. This is a 7-2 decision.

MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: healthcare reform.

NICK EICHER: Before the wide field of Democratic presidential hopefuls narrowed to one, the debates featured lively discussions about one topic in particular.

SANDERS: The function of the healthcare system today is to make billions in profits for the insurance companies…

BIDEN: I’m on the only one on this stage that actually got anything done on healthcare. I’m the guy the president turned to and said go get the votes for Obamacare.

KLOBUCHAR: We have worked to bring down the cost by fighting to allow 43 million seniors, that’s a bill I lead, to negotiate for better prices under Medicare.

Most of the candidates supported two choices: Medicare for All or the so-called Public Option. But after experiencing a pandemic, what do American voters think about these proposals? WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Every month, The Kaiser Family Foundation asks Americans about their views on healthcare issues … especially healthcare reform proposals. 

Ashley Kirzinger is a public opinion researcher at the foundation. She says before the coronavirus came to American shores, one of the healthcare reform ideas gaining traction among Democrats and Independents was Medicare for All.

KIRZINGER: It’s really kind of increased in awareness since Bernie Sanders made it a pivotal point in his presidential campaign. 

Medicare for All would nationalize healthcare. It would completely get rid of the private healthcare sector. In January, Kaiser’s tracking poll found 56 percent of Americans liked that idea. And in the most recent poll in May, that number held steady. 

Ashley Kirzinger says that flat line is surprising. 

KIRZINGER: We thought with all of the conversation around the cost of coverage and people’s concerns with this big public health crisis that the country was facing, that we thought that there may be some shifts in attitudes towards Medicare for All.

Another healthcare shake-up gaining buzz before the pandemic was the Public Option plan. That’s where the government would create a federal health insurance policy. The idea is that it would compete with private insurance plans and be cheaper. 

KIRZINGER: The vast majority of Democrats, nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents and about half of Republicans actually support a Public Option.

In January that support came to more than two-thirds of all Americans. Fast forward to May, as lockdowns started to end in many states, the level of support for that reform didn’t change either.

KIRZINGER: It seems that attitudes towards both of these have really stabilized and haven’t shifted dramatically because of the coronavirus.

So, why no shift? 

Doug Badger is a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. He says one reason is that the longer these ideas are around the more people learn about the nuts and bolts. 

BADGER: The more people learn about them in terms of their cost in terms of potential limitations on their access to care, the less supportive they become.

Kaiser Family Foundation’s Ashley Kirzinger says the lack of change is also a symptom of America’s deep divide. During the coronavirus Republicans have largely seen a system that can handle a pandemic, while many Democrats see a system that’s faltered.  

KIRZINGER: It solidified their beliefs. For Republicans, they may think that we don’t need drastic changes to the country’s health insurance system, and this is just an indication that when there is a public crisis, that we can make other changes, and so we don’t need a much larger systematic change.

But could attitudes toward a healthcare makeover change going into November? 

Katherine Hayes is the healthcare policy director at the Bipartisan Policy Center. She predicts the economy will push healthcare to the back burner for the foreseeable future. 

HAYES: My sense is that we’re just not gonna see a lot of movement on healthcare, even though we have had this pandemic.

Tom Miller is with the American Enterprise Institute. He says when the country is in the midst of economic and social upheaval, a healthcare overhaul doesn’t look so attractive. 

MILLER: You’re going to have enough trouble managing a business as usual. And so we’re not about to disrupt everything and take a wild card on a 5 to 10 year project disruption.

But other healthcare researchers say that upheaval could push voters toward change. 

Chris Pope is a healthcare policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute. He says the economy is tied to healthcare. Most Americans get their health insurance through their employer. Right now, 21 million Americans are unemployed. If they remain out of work, they could start looking to the government for help. 

POPE: That’s a radical change to the sources of funding and also the politics of how people feel about employee-sponsored health insurance. How exactly that plays out politically at the moment is a little unclear.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER: As a former Army staff sergeant, Trent Tweddale is trained for combat, but he never thought he’d find himself in a fistfight with an alligator.

Tweddale was walking his dog on his farm north of Tampa, Florida when the nature walk took an unexpected turn. 

His 6-year-old rescue pup, Loki, dipped his front paws in a creek and moments later his master was literally fighting for his dog’s life.

Audio here from TV station WFLA …

TWEDDALE: I grabbed the dog’s collar to try to pull him back and wound up in a tug of war match with this gator and the gator was not letting go.  So I let go of the collar and started pounding on the gator’s head until he eventually let go.

He let go, but not before nearly severing the dog’s leg. Loki’s alive and well after surgery and has a good chance of regaining full use of the leg.

As for his owner, he’s got a message for the next gator lying in wait…

TWEDDALE: We love our dog a lot and I’d fight tooth and nail for him.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, June 16th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The Olasky Interview.

Today, a conversation with author James Smith. He teaches philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has written numerous books including: You Are What You Love, and Awaiting the King. His most recent title is: On the Road With Saint Augustine.

EICHER: Augustine of Hippo was an early church theologian and bishop in North Africa during the 4th and 5th centuries. Professor Smith asserts that Augustine’s writings still offer relevant wisdom for many of our modern issues, more than 16-hundred years later.  Here’s an excerpt of his conversation with WORLD editor in chief, Marvin Olasky.

MARVIN OLASKY:  Just thinking, growing up my cathedral was Fenway Park in Boston where the Red Socks played. What was your cathedral? Do you have other non-church cathedrals that draw you now? 

JAMES SMITH: Well, when I was in high school, sport was kind of my religion. But really it was freestyle BMX biking, the kind of thing you see on the X-Games and things like that, that happens in Austin. And what was interesting is that it was very much about belonging. 

It really was, it’s a little bit like what Augustine was looking for in the Manicheans when he joined, you know he’s a young man, he’s joining these different groups. I’m not sure what my current sort of sympathies would be. It would be, I guess I do have a little bit of a tendency to just. The academy itself can be its own temple, right?

OLASKY: Right.

SMITH: There’s a way in which  the perks and laudates and benefits and privileges of the university life can draw you into a world where you start valuing good things, but for the wrong reason. And I think that’s an ongoing challenge for Christian academics… 

OLASKY: So, you write in this book and frequently about how habits change us. That’s one thing I would question. Can we easily fall into rituals that don’t actually change us, but just confirm us to feel good about ourselves without really going through the type of thinking that Augustine went through?

SMITH: Yeah, I mean, interestingly if you look at the trajectory of how Augustine orders the Confessions, changing his mind does not solve his problem, but when you get to book seven, in a way all of Augustine’s intellectual convictions have been changed. But then when you turn to book eight, he will still confess that he doesn’t have the will that’s needed. And what’s required is a transformed will, transformed love. 

And that, now, of course the condition of that is the infusion of grace that comes from God that makes it possible. But then he describes in a way re-habituation is giving yourself over to rhythms, routines, and practices that are themselves infused by the Spirit. So that they are doing a kind of work of transformation on us on a register that is pre-intellectual. 

And I just don’t think, I actually don’t think that many people think their way into holiness. If that was the case, everybody with a Ph.D. in theology would be a saint, and that’s hardly the case. 

And I think what you see in Augustine is a great model of somebody who engages in deep introspective reflection on him, on his relationship to God, but that it also then spurs his intentionality about giving himself over to rhythms, routines and practices that carry the grace of God in them.

So, admittedly, it is a fairly sacramental understanding of those practices and obviously some Christians disagree with that, but even as somebody who’s a Protestant and in the reform tradition, that vision of a kind of practiced, embodied, presence of the Spirit, habits of grace is something that, you know, Presbyterian and Reformed folk would also be convinced of. 

OLASKY: Yeah, now let me go back to the book. This may be my favorite sentence from the book, “We have created youth ministry that confuses extroversion with faithfulness.” Can you expand that a little bit?

SMITH: Yeah. I guess one of the things that has worried me is that we, we’ve sort of turned youth ministry into entertainment programs. And we think as long as we entertain young people that will keep them in the building. As if keeping them in the building is keeping them in Christ. And I’m not at all convinced that’s the same thing. 

So then what happens is, this sort of template of almost the youth pastor is this incredibly perky, energetic, rah rah cheerleader for Jesus. Who’s very sincere and passionate, I don’t mean to undercut that at all, but what it means now is that we have effectively held up this exemplar of how one is a Christian. That is quite unique and not at all universal. And yet, if that’s all young people see and they’re just not wired for that sort of rah rah cheerleading for Jesus kind of expression of the faith. If they’re just kind of a more contemplative soul, or even if they struggle with doubt, what will happen is they just start to conclude, “well I can never be that person. Therefore, I guess I couldn’t be a Christian.” 

And I think that is a travesty. And it’s young people like that I have found who I meet them at university and they’re ready to walk away because that’s actually the only version of Christianity that they’ve known. 

And then you give them something like the Book of Common Prayer and they’re like, “Wait, you me I can pray and I don’t have to make it up? And it’s not just sort of on me to be improvising?” And then all of a sudden, you’ve given them kind of a mode of contemplative spirituality that they have never ever seen before and it actually makes their heart come alive and they can live into that as a way to follow Jesus. That’s what I’m most worried about. That we make sure young people see all the different modes of which we can be encountering, worshiping, and praying. Because otherwise we just sort of normalize a personality trait rather than the norms of discipleship. 

EICHER: That’s Calvin College professor James Smith talking to Marvin Olasky. For more excerpts of this interview, we will have a link in today’s transcript at

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, June 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The economic lockdown related to COVID-19 harmed many businesses this spring. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson notes one in her area that never stopped.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: In March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to grow, hospitals across the country began postponing surgeries. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was right, they’d need all the beds and supplies they could get for a rush of COVID-19 patients. Non-urgent and elective surgeries would have to wait.

That meant doctors in Washington state had to tell a breast cancer patient she couldn’t get her lumpectomy. A Colorado professor’s hip replacement was delayed indefinitely. A young mom’s surgery for stage 4 colorectal cancer got canceled in Los Angeles. 

And 6-year-old Mitchell Porter of Minneapolis? Well, that heart valve repair he needed? They’d get to it when things settled down.

And while hospitals and dentist offices and the like all adapted to the new new, a fair number of abortion centers didn’t. It was business as usual. Or maybe even more business than usual in some states.

Where I live, the governor told reporters the state’s lone abortion provider would be treated as other non-essential medical facilities. But evidently folks inside the loud-and-proud pink building didn’t get the memo. They never missed a beat.

Escorts met visitors in the parking lot, and they were not standing 6 feet apart. They were not wearing masks. They were not doling out hand sanitizer.  

Besides all that, they had daily gatherings of more than 10 people inside the building.

And as governments across the globe gathered medical supplies to save lives from COVID-19, the abortion center was able to stockpile deliveries for an opposing purpose to take lives.

Meanwhile, in states reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases, abortion appointments could be hard to get. So women came here seeking what they euphemistically call “services.” They drove brand-new Camrys and beat up Chevys and Pathfinders with car seats secured in the second and third rows. They had license plates showing points of origin like Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia.   

These mothers came here and found open doors and someone at a desk ready and waiting to take their cash or major credit card. Early enough cases paid $600 for the RU-486 abortion pill. If they had passed the 12-week mark, the surgical version cost them about $200 more.  

One pastor I spoke with has been a regular outside the gate at this abortion center for decades. He told me that the last few months have been the busiest he’s ever seen.  

Busy, yes, but escorts wearing rainbow-emblazoned vests still found time to antagonize the volunteers holding out hope and saying prayers on the sidewalk. They put buckets of manure in the grass. They covered signposts with ink. They waged a war against the light. 

As the world reopens, virus experts are still wrangling with outcomes and impact. But whatever threats COVID-19 brought, the numbers inside that abortion center remained pretty steady during the pandemic. For some 40 babies each day, the death rate was 100 percent.

I’m Kim Henderson.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: We’ll revisit the issue of police reform and explain why conservatives oppose many of the proposals up for debate.

And, we’ll introduce you to the pastor who swept the popular TV singing contest, The Voice.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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